The Mixed-Up Emotions of Caregiving by Laurie

Dealing with one’s mother’s emotional and/or mental issues is very hard and draining. I find my feelings conflicted, glad to be helping, resentful to have to be doing it, wanting the best for her but not wanting to have to give up my life to help her so much of the time.  Sad, scared, lonely, loving, growing up.

I need to be able to recharge and repair myself and realize the toll it is taking on me even if I am doing it by choice.  I’m not sure what I need exactly to feel better.  I have a feeling of sadness, very profound sadness. I need to accept what is, is. The “Might-Have-Beens” and the “Want-Things-To-Be-Different” have no place.

I guess the sadness comes from the loss of my mother as my caretaker.  I think that’s why I feel a sense of loneliness too.  I don’t want it to be this way.  I want her to still be taking care of me.

Recently, my mother said that she didn’t want to criticize me but that I needed a haircut and it actually felt good since it meant she was trying to take care of me. It’s funny, all these years I have been trying to get her to stop commenting on my hair and for the first time if felt good!

Also, this is the first time she added “I don’t mean to criticize.”  Maybe she said that because I have been telling her that “I need her” or maybe because I am doing so much in taking care of her.  Too bad it couldn’t happen sooner but I’m grateful it’s happening now. There are these small gifts of change and closeness along the way of this very difficult road and it helps.

I think as daughters we need to talk about the role of caregiver and the feelings and stresses that it causes. I was speaking to a girlfriend whose mother actually left her husband after 40+ years of marriage at the age of 78.  The relationship wasn’t a good one so my girlfriend was thrilled, but now she has taken on the roles of life advisor, financial supporter and medical counselor for her mother and that’s a big change in their relationship. Also, it’s very time consuming.  It was good for us to talk about our new roles as caregivers and how hard it is.

To all daughters who are acting as caretakers, I salute us. I think if we acknowledge how unbelievably hard it can be, that awareness can make it a little bit easier.  We need to remember to take care of ourselves too. And to be gentle with ourselves and realize we are not alone after all. Homepage

8 responses on “The Mixed-Up Emotions of Caregiving by Laurie

  1. AvatarDonna

    What about dealing with a daughters emotional and mental health issues for the past 14 years. That has been very draining and what a roller coaster ride. She is now 24 and has a 4 year old daughter of her own. Two months ago, they became homeless, cause mom or dad don’t want to work, so my daughter and granddaughter moved into our home. One day I tried to talk to her about her promise to look for work and she totally exploded on me, and threatened physical harm. There are lots of issues going with her and the daddy. Enough issues that I feel I genuine concern for my granddaughter. I filed for temporary custody of her. My daughter went and got civil protection orders against me, my husband, and my oldest daughter. None of us can have contact with either of them. The temporary custody hearing cannot take place due to the restraining order. It has been two months since seeing my granddaughter. I recently dropped the temporary custody order and my daughter had agreed to dismiss the CPO’s. Now our family dog (14 years old) is having failing health. I called my attorney who contacted her attorney to let her know if she wanted anymore time with our dog, she would need to dismiss these crazy CPO’s. So as far as I’ve been told, she is suppose to meet her attorney at the courthouse tomorrow to dismiss them. I want to rebuild our relationship as mother and daughter and my granddaughter. I have no idea about how to even start. Can anyone suggest what I can do? Where to start? All the issues of concern for my granddaughter are still there. Any ideas?

    1. Post author

      Donna, We are so sorry to hear about your difficulties with your daughter. That was compassionate of you to reach out to her about your family dog. We have a section on the website about just what you’re asking for…look through the Estrangement Section and you will find some helpful suggestions and specific strategies for how to reach out to your daughter and try to start to rebuild your relationship. Good for you for wanting to try. We wish you peace and healing.

  2. AvatarDeborah

    In response to Laurie…In my opinion, when a parent uses the phrase “I don’t mean to criticize” that is EXACTLY what they are doing. My mother kept my hair cut short for many years while I was growing up. I think it is emasculating and keeps a mother in complete control. I could use Biblical references but will keep religion out of my answer. My mother was sick everyday of my life. No one could be ill as long as she was sick. She is 78 and is still sick…I am tired of the care giving, the control and running every time she has a hang nail. I believe if your mother is good person and you recognize it in a mature and educated way then you can make a good decision about proper care giving or whether your life is being ruined by a selfish, unbearable, control freak that is jealous and just plain mean…

  3. AvatarDeborah

    In response to Donna…I am not a professional, but I do think that when you engage in legal issues like civil this and protection order that, you are not helping the situation. Mother and father and child should be on the street or in a homeless shelter. Heartless you say? Maybe, before they let the baby die they will bring it back to you. They call your bluff by putting the baby in your face. They have made this bed and you need to let them lie in it. But keep a close eye out without them knowing. Once you try to take a child from a parent “repairing the relationship” will be EXTREMELY difficult. Parents all too often get involved in their children’s messes and the children end up learning nothing and continuing the same pattern. Letting go is hard…but they have to learn to swim or they WILL drown. In my opinion…Respectfully…

  4. AvatarKaren Tinnes

    I divorced my husband because he was an alcoholic and very violent with me. My behavior in the maraige was aweful and I have a lot of shame about how I dealt with it. My kids were 16 (daughter) and 18 (son). It was a hideous trauma for all of us. I am writing because now that my daugher is 24, she has “disowned” me. I can’t get her to talk to me at all, or see me. We were so close up until a few yrs ago. I honestly do not know what to do. She lives with a guy who does not work, is Bi Polar, and smokes pot. He spends all of his time playing computer games. I always include him, send him gifts and cards. Anyway, they never thank me for the gifts I give them or return my calls or texts or emails. I don’t know what to do or where to start. does anyone have any suggestions. I am so worried about my daugher who is so hateful toward me.

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